Breath is one of the most powerful forces in the body. When we experience extreme emotions, those feelings are immediately apparent in how we breathe. If we’re calm and relaxed, our breath is smooth and easy, but if we’re stressed or scared, our breath comes out faster or less controlled.
Our breath is more than just a reaction—it’s also a signal to the rest of the body’s systems. The faster we breathe, the more stressed our body becomes. But when our breath is slow and calm, our body can focus on more fun things, like climbing a mountain or following directions to find a campground.
For athletes, learning to control breath is essential. You may not have much control over the conditions that cause you to experience either stress or relaxation, but you do have control over how you deal with those situations. With practice, you can learn to calm your breathing even in high-stress situations. In doing so, you free up your mind and body so that both can function more effectively.
Whatever activity you love most, consider the potential of minimizing your fears and focusing on your performance.
All outdoor pursuits, from hiking and rock climbing to skiing and rafting, require a degree of mental toughness. To proceed or improve, you must occasionally put yourself in situations that your survival-focused mind doesn't like. In those moments, your ability to remain clear-headed, focused, and calm is essential to your success and safety.
The ability to control your breath could give you an important advantage as you push the limits of your mind and body.
Of course, breath control is easier said than done. Learning to breathe calmly and thoughtfully is hard enough in non-stressful environments. Even in yoga classes, instructors must regularly remind students to return to their breath. What a strange phenomenon that we so easily become detached from something that is so essential to our life.
However, with mindfulness and patient practice, we can all learn to take better care of our breathing. Here are a few strategies to get you started:
You don’t have to be outside or active to start paying better attention to your breath—in fact, you can and should start right now.
Train yourself to check in with your breathing at regular intervals throughout the day, while you drive, walk, or type. Consider scheduling these check-ins on your calendar. They only take a moment!
The simple act of paying attention to your breathing on a regular basis will cause you to breathe better.
Instead of listening to music on your next run or bike ride, listen to your breath. Is it huffy and ragged? If so, you’re going to be more tired at the end of your workout.
Practice breathing in a controlled, regular rhythm instead. Some runners like to follow a 3:2 pattern (breathing in for three strides and out for two), as it keeps the air moving steadily and may reduce your risk of impact-related injuries. Listening to your breath while you exercise might feel awkward at first, but the more you train yourself to notice, the better your performance will be.
Slouching compresses your chest and stomach in a way that restricts deep breathing. The solution is simple—lift your chest, let your shoulders drop away from your ears, and lift your chin.
There are endless benefits to mastering your breath. You can discover a clearer mind, less stress, and the ability to think and act apart from passing emotions, just by paying closer attention to your breath.
Self-awareness is key, and your journey to better breathing and greater calm can start right now.
For information about Mishmi Takin’s breathable adventure gear, check out our products, technology, and mission here.
Comments will be approved before showing up.